Team Memorial does well at international baja competition
When part of the curriculum is to design and build an off-road vehicle for racing, going to school takes on a whole new meaning. For the fourth year in a row, Team Memorial Baja competed at the international Baja SAE Series. The team placed 38 out of 88 universities and for the first time, the university’s baja finished the four-hour endurance race over rough terrain without any technical issues. Aaron Bolt is the team captain and he is quite pleased with how the team worked together leading up to and during the competition, which took place in Rochester, NY.
“The team put together a really solid effort this year. After a disappointing result last year the team was looking for some redemption at this year’s competition. We learned a lot from last year’s competition and because of that we were able to produce a vehicle that was both technologically superior and more capable than ever before. Our car held up great in the endurance race and was able to compete in all the events, and despite many unexpected challenges leading up to the event we all pulled together and got things done. I was really impressed with our team’s ability to deal with adversity this year. We faced some tough situations but we stayed strong and our hard work paid off,” he said.
Baja SAE consists of three regional competitions that simulate real-world engineering design projects and their related challenges. Engineering students are tasked to design and build an off-road vehicle that will survive the severe punishment of rough terrain and sometimes even water. Baja SAE Rochester 2013 took place from June 6-9, and included competitions in acceleration, hill climbing, maneuverability, suspension and traction and endurance.
“The first few days of the event are always the most stressful. This is when the technical safety inspection of the car takes place. Despite not having any critical problems with the car, some unfortunate scheduling problems caused things to be a little more stressful than usual, but we got through it and were able to compete. The first day of dynamic events (acceleration, hill climb, suspension and traction, and maneuverability) went well, but a few minor issues cost us in the standings. On the last day, which was the day of the endurance race, the sun came out after three days of rain and the car performed great and stayed on the track and required one minor repair. The team was all smiles after the race and we all felt good about our efforts and our chances for next year,” said Mr. Bolt.
To date, Team Memorial has done well at the competition. In 2010, the team came in first overall in the water event and won the “Rookie of the Year” award. In 2011, Team Memorial placed fourth in the hill climbing event, and placed sixth in the acceleration event last year. For next year’s competition, the team plans to improve the existing baja by reducing the overall weight of the car while maintaining strength by using composite materials, expanding the capabilities of the Arduino-powered driver information system, continuing to find new ways to utilize 3D printing in designs and improving driver training and competition preparation. Improving the existing car instead of building a new car will allow for more preparation time leading up to next year’s event.
Mr. Bolt believes that getting involved in events such as the Baja SAE Series enhances the university experience and encourages students to find creative and fun ways to learn.
“The Memorial Baja team provides a unique experience to engineering students and allows us to get real world design experience before we graduate. It is the best way for students in engineering to learn about machining and fabricating and gain hands-on experience with all the tools of the trade, as well as learning to design for manufacturing, assembly and maintenance. It has truly enhanced my academic experience and has been crucial in my development as an engineer. It is awesome!”
The team wishes to acknowledge and thank the following sponsors: the Angus Bruneau Student Leadership and innovation Fund in Engineering (LIFE) Program, Memorial’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and Technical Services Division, Hickman Motors, Atlantic Trailer and Equipment, Cimetrix Solutions, PAL, Wood Group PSN, Rideout Tools, Pennecon, QTC, PEG-NL and Mile One Harley.
For more about Team Memorial Baja, go to www.memorialbaja.com.